Catastrophe Modelling of UK Storm Surge Risk

Loughborough University - Department of Geography

Start date: October 1st 2017

Interview date: Week beginning February 13th 2017

Primary supervisor: Dr John Hillier

Secondary supervisor: Dr Dapeng Yu

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership to start in October 2017. The project will be based in the Department of Geography at Loughborough University. 

Project Detail:
What is the UK’s present day storm surge risk, and how will this change in the future? Wind-driven coastal flooding or ‘Storm Surge’ is an important risk to the UK, but its standard assessment methodology (SRJPM) dates to 1995 and does not include spatial correlation between assets at risk (e.g. houses and infrastructure). This project will address that limitation, and progress this research field by: i) taking advantage of the developments in statistical techniques and climate modelling that includes greenhouse gas forcing scenarios; and ii) integrating this with advanced numerical modelling of storm surge and coastal flood inundation, and risk analysis.

Excitingly, modelling will go all the way from surges driven by off-shore storms to inland coastal inundation (i.e. flooding) and risk assessment. It aims to quantify all likely surge disasters, focusing on the national (i.e. whole of UK) and but illustrated with local scale (i.e. urban centre) case studies.

Risk assessment will use ‘catastrophe modelling’, a GIS methodology from the (re-)insurance industry that links physical models of hazards to financial loses; effectively ‘Monte Carlo’ simulation.

Internationally, this work is supported by Prof. Ning Lin of the Hurricane Hazards and Risk Analysis Research Group at the prestigious Princeton University.

For this project, the PhD student will gain state-of-the-art skills to analyse financial loss and meteorological data. This training will be in modelling, planning for resilience, and understanding environmental systems. The student will gain strength in skills identified by NERC as ‘most wanted’ for jobs in the environment sector; ‘modelling’, ‘multi-disciplinarity’, ‘numeracy’, ‘risk and uncertainty’ and this project will thus be excellent preparation for the environmental employment market. 

Find out more:
General information about the Department of Geography can be found at and more information about the project and CENTA can be found at 

Entry requirements:
Applicants will normally need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Earth Science or Environmental Science.  A Master’s degree and/or experience in a related area associated with the research will be an advantage.

Funding information:
The studentship is for 3.5 years, which is intended to start October 2017. It provides a tax-free stipend of £14,296 per annum (2016/17 rate) for the duration plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and a research training support grant of £8,000.  Due to funding restrictions, only students with UK/EU fee status will be considered for this opportunity. For further information on studentship eligibility please see RCUK Terms & Conditions.

Contact details:
Dr John Hillier,, +44 (0)1509 223727

How to apply:

Please quote CENTA-LU6 when completing your online application.

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Midlands of England